Russia Criticizes NATO’s Withdrawal From Afghanistan

Posted April 19th, 2012 at 11:05 am (UTC-5)
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Russia is criticizing NATO's plans to withdraw combat troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2014.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Thursday, “as long as Afghanistan is not able to ensure by itself security in the country, the artificial timelines of withdrawal are not correct and should not be set.”

He made the comments in Brussels, where he met with NATO ministers on Thursday. Lavrov also said Russia wants to be included in all NATO discussions that the alliance holds with its non-NATO partners, because Russia provides important transport links for NATO supplies into Afghanistan.

The Russian foreign minister said China and other countries in Asia have similar concerns about the timetable for the drawdown of U.S. and NATO troops.

Coalition forces are in the process of transferring security responsibility to their Afghan counterparts by the 2014 deadline.

NATO defense and foreign ministers have been discussing the timeline during two days of meetings that began Wednesday. The talks lay the groundwork for next month's NATO summit in Chicago, where heads of state are expected to outline their long-term commitment to Afghanistan.